Robocalls

Stay a step ahead of the scammers. Educate yourself on some of the most common frauds and scams.

What are robocalls or spam calls?

A robocall is short for "robotic call" and is defined as a phone call that uses a computerized autodialer. Once the call has been answered, the autodialer either plays a recorded message or connects the call to a live person. Some robocalls use personalized audio messages to simulate an actual personal phone call and may individually address the recipient by name.

Spam calls can be a nuisance and, in many cases, a threat. YouMail, a third-party robocall blocking software company, estimates that more than 50 billion robocalls were made in 2021.

What are the different types of spam calls or robocalls?

Types of spam calls or robocall scams include:

  • Spoofing calls
  • IRS scams
  • Charity scams
  • Travel scams
  • Customer care scams
  • Loan scams
  • etc.

Example 1: Hi, it's Mia. Important announcement, due to the recent COVID-19 coronavirus, the IRS is extending tax filing deadline and settling past-due tax debt. If you currently owe the IRS more than $10,000 in back owed taxes and need help press 1. If this is a call in error please press 7 to be removed. We can put a stop to wage garnishments, leans, and lower or eliminate the amount you owe.

Example 2: Hello this is an important message regarding your credit card payment. Due to the current epidemic of coronavirus, the cardmember services decided to eliminate your monthly payments and interest rates. Credit card members can now avail monthly payments elimination and lower interest rates. To speak to a representative please press 1.

Are Robocalls Illegal?

In the U.S, some robocalls are considered legitimate and are allowed without permission under the FTC’s rules. 

Here are some legit robocalls that are allowed and why.

  • Informational message robocalls are telling you that your flight has been canceled or reminding you about a medical appointment.
  • Debt collection robocalls are businesses that are legitimately trying to collect a debt and are allowed to use recorded messages to reach you. However, services that attempt to sell you services to reduce your debt are not and are probably scams.
  • Healthcare provider calls are from pharmacies reminding you to refill a prescription.
  • Messages from charities can make these calls themselves. But if a charity hires someone to make robocalls on its behalf, the robocalls can only go to prior donors or members of the charity. They must also include an automated option to let you stop future calls. 

How to identify and avoid spam calls/robocalls.

Here are some tips to identify and avoid spam or fraudulent callers.

  • Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown numbers or any others that appear suspicious.

  • Never share your personal or financial information via email, text messages, or over the phone.

  • Be cautious if you’re being pressured to share any information or make a payment immediately.

  • Scammers often spoof phone numbers to trick you into answering or responding.  Remember that government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or money.

  • Always check on a charity (for example, by calling or looking at its actual website) before donating.

  • If the caller represents a generic sounding organization such as “HealthCentral 2020”, “Local Air Duct”, “The Government”, or not even bothering to identify their organization, then it is a scam. 

  • If there is pressure to act now, it is a scam.

  • Recorded generic calls from marketing agencies or unknown numbers are likely spam calls. 

  • If the caller claims to know you but does not know your name, it is a scam.

  • If the caller claims to represent a preexisting relationship and cannot cite an account number, or otherwise prove they are who they purport to be, it is a scam. 

  • A legitimate business calling one of their clients should already know everything they need about their client. Beyond perhaps verifying a birthdate, the customer should provide no information to the caller.  

  • If the caller wants money, cash cards, social security numbers, credit card or bank account numbers, shoe size when you are 14 years old, mother’s maiden name, etc, It’s a scam. Legitimate requests for payment can be done via mail.

Also, check out consumer tips from the FCC.gov to stop unwanted robocalls.

What happens if you answer a spam call?

If you answer a spam call, it could lead to more spam calls. By picking up the phone you are essentially telling robocallers that your number is active and they could in turn sell your number to other telemarketers. It’s important not to answer calls from unknown numbers. If you do happen to answer such a call, hang up immediately.

Here are some steps to take if you answer a spam call.

  1. Hang up as soon as you realize it’s a robocall. The less you engage, the better. If you talk or react, the call may be marked as “live,” and you will be subject to more of them.
  2. Avoid saying the word “yes” if you can. Many robocalls scams start with a question like “Hello, can you hear me?” to which people may reply “yes” without thinking. They can then store the recording of your confirmation and use it for fraudulent activities. So, avoid saying yes where possible.
  3. Avoid following the bot’s instructions. Robocalls sometimes prompt you to take action, such as “press 1 to speak to a live representative'' or “press 2 to unsubscribe” and so on. By following instructions, you confirm to the robocallers that you are a potential victim and invite further robocalls. Try to avoid taking action.
  4. Report the call to the FTC. You can report robocalls to the Federal Trade Commission at donotcall.gov. By reporting the number which appears on your caller ID, you help the FTC track down the scammers behind the call. The FTC takes the phone numbers you report and releases them to the public each business day. This helps phone carriers and other partners that are working on call-blocking solutions. Reports also help law enforcement identify the people behind illegal calls. 
  5. Exercise caution. The damage that robocall scams can do is significant. Even if they don’t get your credit card information, they will waste your time. Proceed with caution every time you see an unknown caller ID. If a business is calling you, you can hand up, find their contact number on their website, and call them back to check if the call is legitimate.

How can Verizon customers report a Robocall?

The Call Filter app and My Verizon allow wireless customers to report a number as spam.

If you believe we have mistakenly labeled or blocked a legitimate call, please report it at Spam Feedback Website.

How to report robocalls?

In the U.S, you can report robocalls to the Federal Trade Commission. You can also register your number with the National Do Not Call Registry (bear in mind this will only work for companies that follow the law - scammers won’t care if your number is registered in this way).

How to block spam calls?

If you are wondering what to do about robocalls or how to block spam calls, here are some tips for device-specific methods of blocking spam calls.

How to block robocalls on iPhones?

iPhone iOS devices enable you to prevent specific numbers from contacting you, or, if you prefer, you can forward all calls from unfamiliar contacts directly to voicemail.

To block a number on your iPhone:

  1. Go to the iPhone app and tap “Recents”
  2. Locate the number you would like to block
  3. Tap the blue “i” inside a circle to the right of the number
  4. On the next screen, scroll down and tap on “Block this caller”
  5. Tap on the option “ Black contact” on the message which pops up

To make yourself unavailable to all numbers which are not on your Contacts list:

  1. Go to “Settings” and select the option “Phone”
  2. Scroll down 
  3. Tap the “Silence Unknown Callers” switch, so it displays as green

How to block robocalls on Android devices?

The process to follow to block spam calls on Android is similar to the one you use from iPhone.

To block a number on your Android device:

  1. Open the Phone app from the home screen
  2. Locate the tab “Recent” and tap on it
  3. Find the number you want to block, tap on it, and then tap the “i” in a circle
  4. Locate the “Block” button and confirm by hitting “Block” in the pop-up message

To block unknown numbers on your Android device:

  1. Open the Phone app from the home screen 
  2. Locate three dots and tap on them to open a drop-down menu 
  3. Select “Settings: from the list
  4. Tap on “Block Numbers”
  5. Toggle the “Block Unknown Callers” switch to green

What does Verizon offer to block robocalls on landline phones?

Verizon offers Caller ID and Spam Alerts for home phones. To help wireline voice customers identify unwanted robocalls, we've added Spam Alerts to your home phone's Caller ID. Your Caller ID will show "SPAM?" before any caller's name that has been identified as a possible unsolicited call. You can also register your Fios Digital Voice line with Nomorobo, a free third-party service that identifies known robocallers and telemarketers and stops your phone from ringing.

Learn more about Verizon Calling Features

We also recommend registering your phone numbers at DoNotCall.govAlthough this FTC registry won’t spare you from calls from scammers and thieves intent on breaking the law, it should prevent you from receiving “live” telemarketing calls, which are regulated by the federal government but are not illegal. You can also report fraud to the Federal Trade Commission.

What does Verizon offer to block spam calls on mobile phones?

For wireless customers, Verizon’s Call Filter can help you avoid unwanted calls. Call Filter blocks potentially fraudulent calls by automatically sending them to voicemail, but you can also block unwanted or nuisance calls with the free Call Filter app or through My Verizon. Upgrade to Call Filter Plus to identify unknown callers by name and customize your spam block list. For the home, Fios Digital Voice customers automatically get Spam Alerts for free, which warns of potential fraud calls, and can also opt in for Nomorobo through My Verizon, a free tool used to stop unwanted calls from ringing on your home phone.

The Call Filter app and My Verizon allow wireless customers to report a number as spam. This information will help us improve our spam detection service.

What is Verizon doing to prevent spam calls?

Robocallers are not going away anytime soon, but Verizon is committed to stopping robocalls so we offer free tools to our mobile and home customers.

  • For mobile, Verizon’s Call Filter is a free service that screens and autoblocks incoming spam calls based on risk level and the spam filter is set to automatically send potential fraud calls to voicemail.
  • For the home, Fios Digital Voice customers automatically get Spam Alerts for free, which warn of potential fraud calls, and can also opt in for Nomorobo through My Verizon, a free tool used to stop robocalls from ringing on your home phone.

While there may not be a silver bullet that entirely ends these activities, we're fully committed to fighting the scourge of robocalls. Verizon is a founding member of the US Telecom Industry Traceback Group, an industry-led organization that traces back suspicious robocall traffic, stops many illegal robocalls, and helps enforcement agencies catch the bad guys. Because most of the most egregious robocalls originate with service providers that look the other way and accept illegal traffic, Verizon has urged the FCC to establish a "chain of trust" between the originating provider and the carrier that terminates the call to the U S. consumer.

We are signing mobile calls using the industry’s STIR/SHAKEN standard, which helps verify that a call is in fact from the number displayed on the Caller ID and not spoofed. Our Fios Digital Voice customers will now have more confidence that the caller ID information they receive for a verified call is accurate.

Verizon automatically blocks in the network calls that we have determined are highly likely to be illegal based on reasonable analytics that incorporate caller ID authentication information. Verizon also uses STIR/SHAKEN technology to update our spam detection algorithm used by Call Filter, in real-time which may, in some cases, reduce the chances of incorrectly blocking or identifying a “good” call as “Potential Spam.” 

Through the efforts of Verizon and our partners, we are starting to curb the increase in robocalls.

STIR/SHAKEN

How is Verizon protecting legitimate calls?

Verizon wants to ensure that its customers receive good and wanted calls. Customers can let us know if we incorrectly identify or block a wanted call as spam.  Calling parties can contact us if they believe their calls have been incorrectly blocked or labeled or that they have been adversely affected by information provided by the caller ID authentication framework.  Both customers and calling parties can contact us at our Spam Feedback website www.voicespamfeedback.com. And because some robocalls are good, we educate legitimate businesses about “best practices” they can follow to reduce the risks that they get caught in blocking or labeling tools.

  • Robocalls FAQs

    Browse our frequently asked question on robocalls.

    Why am I getting so many spam calls?

    If you have answered a number of robocalls, it may be because the spam caller sold your number to other scammers or telemarketing companies. Remember, if the call is important enough, the caller will leave a voicemail message. Most spam callers hang up when the call goes to voicemail.

    Are robocalls illegal?

    No. In fact, using a robotic calling system is useful to consumers in many cases such as medical appointment reminders, school closings, emergency information, and public service announcements because this technology allows notification to thousands of individuals at the same time at a very low cost. The FCC also permits political organizations, pollsters, survey takers and religious organizations to use this technology. However, the FCC requires all commercial companies to obtain your written consent before making prerecorded telemarketing. More information can be found at FCC.gov.

    Why do robocalls hang up?

    When your answer a robocall and the caller hangs up, it typically means that the ‘machine’ making the call just wants to verify that the number is active and there is a person on the other side of call.  Once confirmed, spammers will put you on a “calling list” to sell to other spammers or even worse, use it to spoof their calls. That’s why it’s important never to pick up a robocall.

    What is the Do Not Call list? And is it effective?

    The National Do Not Call Registry was created by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to stop unwanted sales calls. It’s free to register your home or mobile phone number. The Registry is a list that tells telemarketers what numbers not to call and is only effective to the degree that these companies comply. If you’ve already added your phone number to the Do Not Call Registry and are still getting a lot of unwanted calls, odds are the calls are from scammers or from telemarketers who are ignoring the Registry.

    What does the [V] on my caller ID screen mean?

    Fios Digital Voice customers now have an enhanced feature which shows a “[V]” on their caller ID, voicemail logs or TV screen when they receive a “verified” call. A verified call means the caller’s telephone provider has confirmed using STIR/SHAKEN technology that the call is coming from an authentic telephone number that has not been spoofed. Scammers and other bad actors often use spoofing to alter the name or number on your Caller ID to get you to answer their calls. This does not mean that calls without a “[V]” are scam calls as Verizon can only verify a call if the caller is using a network that has the same capabilities as Verizon’s network. Also, Verizon cannot guarantee the intent of callers that are verified. Always be wary of unknown calls, but this is another tool to give you more control over the calls you answer.

    • Obtain a consumer’s opt-in consent to receive messages;  
    • Ensure that consumers have the ability to opt-out from receiving all future messages from a particular message sender and honor consumer opt-outs; and
    • Take steps described in the Messaging Principles to not send unwanted messages.